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Face-Off: The Kraken X61, Reserator 3 Max Dual, And NH-D15

Test Results

Since most of the components in today’s system have already been fully reviewed, I decided to skip the description page and move quickly towards thermal testing. You’ll see the Core i7-5930K overclocked to 4GHz at 1.20V, since further overclocking could put it at risk of thermal throttling in certain cooling configurations.

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-5930K (Haswell-E), LGA 2011-v3, Overclocked to 4GHz at 1.20V
MotherboardMSI X99S Gaming 7, BIOS H.40 (09/25/2014)
CaseCorsair Graphite 760T
RAMG.Skill F4-3000C15Q-16GRR (16GB) at DDR3-2400 C15, 1.2V
GraphicsPowerColor PCS+ AXR9 290X 4GBD5-PPDHE: 1050MHz GPU, 4GB GDDR5-5400
Hard DriveSamsung 840 Series MZ-7PD256, 256GB SSD
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerSeaSonic X760 SS-760KM: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Professional RTM x64
GraphicsAMD Catalyst 14.4
ChipsetIntel INF 9.4.0.1017
Benchmark Configuration
Prime95v27.9, AVX FFT length 8K, continuous for at least 2 hours
RealTemp 3.70Maximum temperature, all cores averaged
Galaxy CM-140 SPL MeterTested at 1/4m, corrected to 1m (-12dB), dB(A) weighting

I'm dividing each product’s results into maximum and minimum speeds. The NH-D15’s speed is lowered by its included resistor wires. The Kraken X61’s fan and pump speed is reduced by choosing “Silent” mode in its control software. And the Reserator 3 Max Dual’s fan speed is reduced by choosing minimum mode (50%) on the motherboard’s “System 1” fan header. When plugged into the CPU header, the Reserator 3 Max Dual’s 3-pin pump RPM could not be reduced.

Mounted in an exhaust configuration, NZXT’s Kraken X61 is still able to produce the lowest CPU temperatures. Perhaps that’s because the internal cooler it’s being compared to is…internal.

Voltage regulator temperature is always a big concern when it comes to liquid cooling, which often causes us to consider standard air coolers as a primary choice. The motherboard chosen today benefits from having its voltage regulator placed directly next to each radiator’s fans, though, causing an unexpected benefit in motherboard temperature.

The Reserator 3 Max Dual’s lead in voltage regulator temperatures makes some sense when we look at fan speed and consider the design’s bleed-off. That’s certain to hurt it in noise tests, though.

The reported pump RPM of NZXT’s Kraken X61 appears unrealistic. We think it’s twice what it should be, and I've seen controller software that was designed to compensate for doubled detection speed in certain pump designs.

Here we see the primary reason for the NH-D15’s higher temperatures: slower fans produce less noise while delivering less air pressure.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.